Prominent Republicans barnstorming the country ahead of next week's midterm elections are testing a new line of attack against Hillary Clinton, slamming the former secretary of state for her comment that businesses don’t create jobs.
Clinton quickly corrected herself on Monday, arguing that the "economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in an America where workers and families are empowered to build from the bottom up and the middle out -- not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas."
But one quote was enough for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who, like Clinton, has been making moves toward a future presidential run. "Hillary Clinton says, 'Well, businesses don't create jobs,'" the Kentucky Republican told a GOP audience on Tuesday. "Anybody believe that?"
Mitt Romney, who has notably refused to rule out another presidential run, also piled on. The former GOP presidential candidate jabbed a “certain leading Democrat" over the remark at a rally on behalf of Georgia Senate candidate David Perdue.
“I happen to know that businesses and corporations aren’t the only places that create jobs, I’m sure there a couple of other places somewhere, but in fact they do create jobs and David knows how to do that,” Romney said Wednesday.
If that sounds oddly familiar, it's because Romney attempted the same strategy against another leading Democrat. In 2012, the former governor of Massachusetts relentlessly hit President Barack Obama over his “You didn’t build that” quote, which Republicans took out of context. Like Clinton, Obama was making the case that businesses owe some of their success to the efforts of government and public investment.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who is also said to be weighing a run for president, became the latest Republican to join the fray on Wednesday.
“This last week I saw something that was breathtaking, a candidate -- a former secretary of state who was campaigning in Massachusetts -- where she said that, ‘Don’t let them tell you that businesses create jobs,’” Bush said in Colorado, according to the Associated Press. “Well, the problem in America today is that not enough jobs are being created [but] they are created by business.”
It's not clear yet whether the new line of attack against Clinton is simply an offering of red meat meant to excite the conservative base or a sign of things yet to come. Republicans have struggled to build a singular narrative against the Democrat, and this may be just one more attempt -- after the Benghazi terror attacks, her large speaking fees, among others -- to do so. It's easy to envision the quote in Republican attack ads should Clinton decide to run for president in 2016, as she is widely expected to do. But the strategy failed to register with the public in 2012, even after Republicans featured Obama's line prominently in their nominating convention.